Saudi land forces commander’s visit to India a historic first

February 16, 2022

NEW DELHI — Saudi Arabia Land Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Fahd Bin Abdullah Mohammed Al-Mutair’s visit to India is a historic and landmark first, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Fahd Bin Abdullah held extensive talks with Indian Army chief Gen. M.M. Naravane Tuesday, a day after arriving in the country.

“This is the first ever visit by a serving Royal Saudi Land Forces Commander to India and marks a deepening bilateral defense cooperation between the two countries,” the Defense Ministry said in a press release, adding that his visit is slated to conclude Wednesday.

Gen. Naravane on Monday at the headquarters of Ministry of Defense received Lt. Gen. Fahd Bin Abdullah, who was accompanied by a number of senior officers from the Saudi Land Forces During the meeting, they discussed aspects of military cooperation and issues of common interest.

Lt. Gen. Fahd Bin Abdullah stated that this visit is an important step to highlight the importance of military relations. He also extended his thanks to the Indian Chief of Army Staff for the invitation. Following the meeting, the Saudi delegation paid a visit to the Indian National Defense University.

The three-day visit is the first ever by a Saudi Land forces Chief to India and is a testament of the growing bilateral defense ties between the two regional powers.

On Tuesday, Gen. Naravane received the Saudi Land forces Commander in the South Block lawns of Ministry of Defense. The visiting general officer was thereafter presented with a customary Guard of Honor.

After the initial exchange of pleasantries, the chiefs along with their respective delegations proceeded for the discussions and meetings for reviewing the present state of military cooperation aspects and issues of mutual interest.

The Saudi general also met with the hierarchy of Indian Armed forces as part of his visit program later Tuesday.

The visit is seemingly important due to the warm personal relations shared between the two army chiefs. Building ahead on the relations post the historic visit of chief of Indian Army in December 2020, both the Land Forces Commanders had regular telephonic exchanges to monitor the progress of mutually agreed road map of bilateral relations.

The defense relations between the two countries have seen a notable upswing in the last year with a series of high level interactions and the first bilateral Naval exercise “Al Mohed-Al Hindi” conducted in August 2021 on the Eastern Coast of the Kingdom at Jubail.

Despite COVID induced travel restrictions, officers from both Royal Saudi Armed Forces and Indian Armed Forces are undergoing training in the various military institutes of the two countries.

This year we expect more exchanges and training activities to be conducted between the two friendly countries. New areas of cooperation are being mutually identified to include intelligence sharing, counter terrorism, artificial intelligence and cyber security.

Also on the agenda during the discussions between the two chiefs will be the first ever land forces exercise to be conducted in the second half of 2022.

As India celebrates 75 years of establishing its diplomatic relations with the Kingdom in 2022, defense cooperation remains one of the key pillars of bilateral relations between the two countries.

The vision of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to provide a major impetus to the defense relations, which he himself alleviated to a new level by signing the Memorandum of Defense Cooperation in 2014 as the Crown Prince and Defense Minister, has witnessed numerous positive initiatives under his guidance and directions of the Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.

Today, both Indian and Saudi Arabia are striving to be strategic defense partners being major regional players and sharing common security concerns facing the region.

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